With an industry-leading suite of attractions and a continuous schedule of events, Qatar continues to impress as a major international tourism destination. New data from Qatar Tourism (QT) reveals that the country welcomed 253,191 cruise visitors during its 2022/23 season (December 2022 – March 2023), an increase of 151% compared to the previous season (100,500 visitors).
This sharp uptake in visitor figures is particularly impressive given that this year’s cruise season began later than usual (in December rather than October), as the Doha Port was hosting floating hotels during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ tournament to accommodate visitors and fans.
Among the number of cruise visitors welcomed this season, 37,144 were turnaround passengers, a 790% increase on last season’s numbers (4,172 passengers). Qatar received a total of 54 calls during the 2022/23 cruise season, both transit and turnaround, which marks a 59% uptake on last year.
Qatar's cruise industry has shown remarkable resilience and growth despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19, Qatar has seen a steady increase in cruise ship arrivals and passenger numbers, and the industry is poised for further growth in the seasons to come.
Qatar’s flourishing cruise sector is key to how the country plans to achieve its long-term tourism goals, a fact made evident by the recent major renovation of the country’s Doha Port, which can now accommodate two megaships at a time, and up to 12,000 people a day.
Commenting on the figures, Maryam Saoud, Head of Tourism Product Support Section at Qatar Tourism, said: “These figures are a testament to all stakeholder’s efforts in re-building the sector following the global pandemic, which includes hosting major international cruise liners for the very first time in Doha and offering new itineraries with Doha as the turnaround port. With the Doha Port’s location being at the heart of the city, we’re delighted that hundreds of thousands of visitors are able to swiftly access numerous nearby attractions, including the Mina District, Museum of Islamic Art, Souq Waqif, the National Museum of Qatar, Msheireb Downtown Doha and the Doha Corniche.”
During this season, most cruise passengers originated from Germany (31%), Italy (10%), Russia (6%) and the United Kingdom (3%). Thanks to the expanded capacity of Doha Port, the country was able to welcome a 100% increase in mega ships (44 were welcomed this season, compared to 22 in the previous season), with MSC World Europa bringing in the most passengers (13 calls in total).
The next Qatar Cruise Season 2023/24 will begin on October 8, 2023. Cruise passengers arriving to Qatar through Doha Port are welcomed in a brand-new Grand Terminal that features state-of-the-art facilities. Upon exiting, passengers find themselves by the Mina District, an all-round destination where visitors can enjoy plenty of restaurant options, retail outlets, and a stunning promenade that makes the most of the city’s iconic skyline.